Florence MacKenzie (Aberdeen Christian Fellowship)
Lessons learned to date from James and Florence’s trip to Israel:
LESSON #1 of 10 – SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT TIRED!
LESSON #2 of 10 – THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT YOU EXPECT…
LESSON #3 of 10 – CHOOSING GOD’S WILL MAKES US A LOT LIKE JESUS
LESSON #4 of 10 – IT MAKES SENSE TO FOLLOW THE LEADER!
LESSON #5 of 10 No trip to Israel would be complete without a visit to the Dead Sea. I don’t know what you imagine this Sea to be like, but I was surprised to find it was much bigger than I had thought, measuring more than 40 miles by 10 miles. In some ways, though, I suppose this is quite small for a sea… Totally landlocked on the border between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is over 1,300 feet below sea level and is the lowest point on earth. The Sea receives its main input from the Jordan River and the average annual rainfall in this region is around 4 inches. Quite a difference from here in Scotland, where the average monthly rainfall is about 3 inches!
Our tour group had great fun at the Dead Sea. The lure of getting covered with all that mineral-rich mud and floating effortlessly in the Sea was too much for many of us to resist. Others decided not to get wet and spent their time taking photos and eating ice-cream! We all enjoyed a truly wonderful day. BUT… I soon discovered another of my top 10 lessons learned in Israel. Here’s lesson #5…
I DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE THE DEAD SEA!
• I want to refresh others. The water in the Dead Sea is extremely salty. This is due to the high concentration of minerals resulting from evaporation of the water. If you have the misfortune – as my husband, James, did – of opening your mouth at the wrong time and accidentally ingesting some of the water, you’ll soon discover how undrinkable it is! So, if you’re looking for something to quench your thirst, the Dead Sea won’t deliver!
One of the many things I love about visiting the United States is being served a glass of cold water when you go into a restaurant. It might seem a small thing but, when you’re thirsty, there’s nothing quite like it! I wonder if the guys who do this as part of their job know how much it is appreciated. Jesus said, “…if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42, NLT). Refreshing others is high on Jesus’ agenda and, according to Proverbs 11:25, it’s a win-win situation – “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (NLT). And, still on the subject of refreshing others, how about Proverbs 25:13? “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat – refreshing!” (The Message). The Dead Sea doesn’t have a look-in here. I don’t want to be like the Dead Sea!
• I want to make progress. Ever tried swimming in the Dead Sea? Not possible… Its high salinity makes it very buoyant, so all you can do is float and bob about like a cork! In “normal” water it’s quite easy to make progress by moving from one place to another if you’re a reasonable swimmer. In the Dead Sea, progress is not an option; but in Christian living, progress is essential! Hebrews 6:1 reminds us that “we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity…” (NET Bible®). What progress are you making in the direction of maturity? For example, is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) developing in your life in a noticeable way? The Dead Sea prevents you from moving on. I don’t want to be like the Dead Sea!
• I want to have an outlet. The Dead Sea is unusual in that, although water flows into it, nothing flows out of it. Its level doesn’t rise because of the amount of water that is lost through evaporation. From an early age, I’ve had biblical truth poured into my life. I’m so grateful for this because it’s allowed me to build up a certain amount of knowledge about God and His Word, the Bible. But if I’m content to just amass this kind of information and not allow it to make a difference to the way I live, then what use is that? No matter how many chapters of the Bible I read, or how many verses I memorize, or how many creeds I can recite, if there’s no outlet in the form of a transformed life which impacts other people for good, then I’m wasting my time. The Dead Sea has no outlet. I don’t want to be like the Dead Sea!
• I want to be real. You know the expression WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get? That’s where there’s no pretence, no falseness, no hidden surprises below the surface. Travelling in the coach alongside the Dead Sea, I admired this beautiful body of water. It truly is a very pleasant sight. But what you see is not what you get! Merely looking at the Sea gives you no indication of its unpalatable saltiness; you’d never guess it was impossible to swim in it; and you could be forgiven for thinking that water flowed out of it as well as in to it. But its appearance is very different from the reality. We have a tendency to be like that too, right? We can be overly occupied with outwardly presenting the right image to people around us, while paying little attention to inwardly being conformed to Christ’s image. The Dead Sea isn’t what it appears to be. I don’t want to be like the Dead Sea!